Horror movies have a proud tradition of extreme taglines. Sometimes an idea or a pun gets away from them.
I haven’t seen enough horror movies to write a full list on horror movies. Until I was about, oh, 20ish I was too much of a coward to watch horror movies. (Also, I feel like I was writing a lot of 10-item lists.) Eventually I got over that, and while I watch horror movies now, I don’t necessarily seek them out. (Although, for whatever reason, I really wanted to see Hostel.)
Anyway, I’ve gotten a few requests for a horror movie list and I figured Halloween would be the right time to whip one out. So I’m writing the only type of horror list I feel qualified to write — one that focuses on puns and semantics.
Here are 11 of the worst horror movie taglines ever.
1 | Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
“In Space, No One Can Eat Ice Cream…”
This is a true cult classic, and it’s a great pun on the Alien tagline — only it doesn’t really apply to the movie. Apparently the movie briefly involves an ice cream truck, but it’s not really central. It would be if the tagline of The Dark Knight had been “Zeus Makes a Magnanimous Decision on a Ferry.” The ice cream tagline feels mostly like they came up with the pun and felt like it was too good to pass up — even though it didn’t quite fit.
2 | The Devil’s Rain (1975)
“Heaven Help Us All When [The Devil’s Rain]”
This was a low-budget movie that still featured Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, Tom Skerritt and John Travolta at various stages in their careers. Unfortunately, the tagline is just a mess. Here are my theories on what they were going for…
(1) “Heaven help us all when the devil reigns.”
(2) “Heaven help us all when the devil’s rain falls.”
(3) “Heaven help us all when the devils rain down.”
(4) “Heaven help us all when the devil’s rain” because we don’t understand proper use of an apostrophe s for pluralization.
3 | Mothra (1961)
“Mightiest Monster In All Creation! Ravishing a Universe For Love!”
I’m not sure they know the meaning of the word “ravishing.” In fact, I’m positive they don’t. Firstly, it’s an adjective, not a verb. Secondly, they might’ve meant ravaging, which had sexual connotations — like, Mothra was going around having arguably consensual sex with planets and red dwarfs and comets and such?
4 | The Pit (1981)
“Down In the Pit There’s Something Alive. Half-human. Half-monster. Half-crazed. Pray to God It Only Kills You.”
I do like to see my horror movie bad guys giving 150 percent. It makes it even harder for a hero who’s only giving 110 percent to overcome them.
5 | Scary Movie (2000)
“No Mercy. No Shame. No Sequel.”
They went with this tagline to mock how horror movies always churn out an endless train of low quality sequels to squeeze every last drop of cash out of a franchise. Then Scary Movie inexplicably opened big… and went on to make an endless train of low quality sequels to squeeze every last drop of cash out of the franchise. Whoops.
6 | Nail Gun Massacre (1985)
“It’s Cheaper Than a Chainsaw!”
I’m not sure “thriftiness” should be the primary character trait of a good horror movie villain. Also, I looked it up, and you can get a decent chainsaw for less than a good nail gun, so this isn’t even true.
7 | Happy Birthday To Me (1981)
“John Will Never Eat Shish Kabob Again.”
This is arguably the most befuddling horror movie tagline ever written. Does the prospect of never eating shish kabob again strike fear into the hearts of men? I feel like if shish kabob disappeared tomorrow, we’d all just move on. Also — how is that tagline connected to a movie called Happy Birthday to Me? Now I’ve got to watch this one.
8 | Halloween H20 (1998)
“This summer, terror won’t be taking a vacation.”
So this movie came out in August, which is why they went with that tagline. But it’s really irresponsibly incongruous (and disrespectful to the franchise) to associate a movie literally called Halloween with the summer.
9 | The Day of the Dolphin (1973)
“Unwittingly, He Trained a Dolphin to Kill the President of the United States.”
This is one of those laugh out loud taglines due to its mix of gravity and preposterousness. Mike Nichols directed this six years after The Graduate. And we thought Cuba Gooding Jr.’s fall from Jerry Maguire to Boat Trip was precipitous.
10 | Miner’s Massacre (also known as Curse of the Forty-Niner) (2002)
“They Axed For It!”
They axed for it? If everyone in that poster wasn’t super-duper Girls cast-level white, I just might call them racist here. And speaking of racist…
11 | The Greenskeeper (2002)
“It’s Par For the Corpse.”
I adore the pun — but that’s only because I’m a pun lover. No joke — notorious former MLB pitcher John Rocker plays the Greenskeeper. So there’s no worry about the old cliche of the “black guy always dies first in horror movies” — there’s no chance there were any black characters to begin with.